Expression of the ′A′ and ′B′ forms of progesterone receptor (PR), in an appropriate ratio is critical for normal mammary development. As such, mammary glands of PR-A transgenic mice, carrying additional ′A′ form of PR as transgene, exhibit morphological and histological characteristics associated with transformation. Accordingly, in the present studies, we analyzed these mammary glands for the presence of transformed epithelial cells by examining for alterations in gene expressions and growth potential, known to be associated with different stages of transformation. These studies reveal that, in the aberrant mammary epithelial structures, there is a decrease in p21 expression, an increase in cyclin D1 expression accompanied by an increase in cell proliferation, and a decrease in estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). In mammary ducts with normal histology, there is a decrease in p21 expression without an elevation in cyclin D1 expression or cell proliferation or a decrease in ERα expression. Treatment of PR-A transgenics with anti-progestin, mifepristone, has no effect on cell proliferation, cyclin D1 or ERα expression in the aberrant epithelial structures. In contrast, mifepristone restored the loss of p21 expression in the epithelial cells of both the ducts with normal histology and aberrant structures. Parallel studies reveal no apparent differences between the mammary glands of wild-type and PR-B transgenic mice, which carry additional PR ′B′ form. Accordingly, we conclude that (i) mammary glands of PR-A transgenics contain at least two distinct populations of transformed epithelial cells, (ii) the epithelial cell population in the ducts with normal histology contain presumptive immortalized cells, indicative of early stages of transformation, (iii) the aberrant epithelial structures contain later stages of transformation associated with hyperplasias/pre-neoplasias and (iv) the transformation of mammary epithelial cells in PR-A transgenics might be due to a misregulation in progesterone action resulting from overexpression of PR ′A′ form.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research